Tag Archives: Jungian

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis

These are some of the quotes from this book that resonated with me:

1) “As we have seen, the most important messages of life come from the primary relationships with mother, father and siblings and then, in ever widening circles, the culture as a whole. These messages are internalized and we accede to them, seek to evade them, or unconsciously solicit treatment for them. These messages, or complexes, are splinter mythologies, embodied in daily life as fractal personalities, and to ether they enact the ego’s daily dance. Most of the time the ego is in service to these scripts even when it thinks otherwise….Thus, we marry, go to college, join the army, produce children and careers, and only from tim ego time question why or to what end.”

2) “But the question why continues to be asked in the unconscious.”

3) As Jung reminds, “It is not I who created myself, rather I happen to myself.”

4) “Perhaps the highest achievement of consciousness is not the self-serving reiteration of its own glories, its agenda of regressive reinforcement in the face of the late, intimidating cosmos that is our home, but rather its capacity to acknowledge that it has been called to witness, and to serve, to serve something larger.”

Quite consistent with the ideas of Buddhism, the way to a larger life is to become more conscious. Hollis provides a list of questions to reflect upon and answer.  The questions force us to contemplate the areas in which we are living out of habit, rather than intention. This leads to fear, rigidity and resistance to change. Rather, Hollis asks us to consider:

  • 1) Where has life blessed you?
  • 2) Where are you blocked by fear, stuck, rigid, resistant to change?
  • 3) What is the fear beneath the fear?
  • 4) Where were your parents stuck and where has that manifested in your own life? Are you repeating their lives, their patterns or trying to overcome them by compensation?
  • 5) What ideas, habits, and behavioral patterns are holding you back?
  • 6) Where are you still looking for permission to live your life?

Even if you do not believe in a “soul” or are indifferent towards Jungian or Buddhist thought, these are excellent questions to ponder on. This type of reflection can be the difference between living a deeper and “larger life” and feeling stuck and out of control.